Italy beat Venezuela 3-1 (25-19, 18-25, 27-25, 25-20) - duration 1:40
19-Jul, start time: 19:30, end time: 21:10 - Attendance: 5,200 Italy had to struggle to achieve its sixth victory.
The Italians had to face a determined Venezuela in the first match of Intercontinental Round Four in front of 5,200 fans at the Barquisimeto Dome with the home side coming back from a shaky start to level 1-1 and squeeze the mighty Azzurri into a corner. Italy started well, capitalizing on seven mistakes by Venezuela, who seemed at a loss to deal with the vicious attack of Andrea Sartorelli that helped them through to an easy 25-19 first set result. But Venezuela woke up in the second set and good blocking by Manzanillo inspired the Latin America team to romp through the second set 25-18 to level at 1-1. With both teams now determined, the stage was set for the third which turned out to be the most exciting on the match as the two sides traded points and the lead back and forth and tough encounters between Alessandro Fei and Ronald Mendez. Venezuela had difficulty handling Fei's attacking from the center of the court and the European fortress won the set 27-25. Italy continued its good offensive and reception in the fourth set, adding a powerful wall of triple blocking against Ernardo Gomez and then went on to take the match. The two teams will face each other again on Sunday in the Cabimas Dome. /mh